Ken Duncan's fight for photography rights moves to NSW Premier's office

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Having recently encouraged Sydney's photographers to boycott Vivid festival, photographer Ken Duncan has now set his sights on Premier Gladys Berejiklian's office.

Some two years after he was nearly arrested in Barangaroo for taking images, and having received a promise from then premier Mike Baird that an investigation into regulation of photography in public areas would happen, Mr Duncan says he is increasingly frustrated that little progress appears to have been made.

"Its like entering a roundabout, going round and round," he said. "There's been endless meetings that go nowhere."

The renowned landscape photographer has now appealed to Gladys Berejiklian to pick up where Baird finished, starting with re-establishing a working group to investigate onerous restrictions on enthusiast photographers in Sydney harbour. The group appears to have been disbanded once Berejiklian took office.

Ken Duncan is no stranger to campaigning for photographers' rights, pictured here protesting in 2010.

Under current legislation, including the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and Heritage Act, commercial filming or photography requires approval in many areas around NSW from various levels of government and authorities. However these rules often lead to confusion with enthusiast photographers potentially swept up by restrictions intended for professionals.

Mr Duncan said the restrictions were so oppressive that in one stretch along the Sydney Harbour foreshore photographers could be required to get permits from the City of Sydney, Barangaroo Delivery Authority, Property NSW, Roads and Maritime Services or the Sydney Wildlife Authority, depending on where they were taking images.

The current amnesty around photography during the annual Vivid festival is compounding the problem, believes Mr Duncan.

"You have this Jekyll and Hyde situation where the local authorities are willing to turn a blind eye to photographers shooting during Vivid, while the rest of the time it's illegal," he said.

“What I'm asking for is simple," continued Mr Duncan. "If photographers are not creating any more impact or wanting any more access than the general public there should be no fees or permits.”

He is hopeful that Premier Berejiklian will take ownership of the problem, and commit to 'keeping the lights on year round'. But if that doesn't happen, Mr Duncan is stealing himself for a fight. "If worse comes to worse, I'll do a rally," he said.



Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, a spokesperson said the NSW government is “committed to supporting photographers”.

There was a “need for guidelines to be simple, practical and user-friendly” but the spokesperson insisted commercial photography could never be entirely regulation free.

A “whole-of-government protocol is being considered to manage requests by low-impact commercial photographers to use State Government land,” they said.

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